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Emerald City - Alicia K. Leppert This review was originally posted at Krazy Book Lady

Emerald City by Alicia Leppert is a young adult romance that could easily be classified as contemporary, with just a hint of paranormal romance. It is Leppert’s debut novel, published by Cedar Fort Books.

Olivia Tate found herself in a very dark place. She had numbed any emotions that she may have had since the death of her mother. Her father was long gone, having left her and her mother fifteen years prior. She was able to go through the motions of life until finally everything becomes too much. A bottle of Valium later, she finds her life has changed (and been saved) due to the concern of her mysterious neighbor, Jude West.

When I started reading this book, I wanted to put it down. I do not usually enjoy reading about others floundering at the bottom of the deep void of depression, but I am so glad that I stayed with it. This is a story of survival, hope, sacrifice, and how just the little things can turn someone’s life around completely. The characters were very sweet, and it was easy to become attached to them. I am not usually a fan of romance, but this one was palatable. The book had a bit of a twist, but I had picked up on it almost immediately. (It's been done before.) However, it did not detract from the story or my enjoyment of it at all.

The book only had a few minor issues, with the main one being Olivia (and the only one really worth mentioning). I know how realistic it is for teenagers to feel so very hopeless, but I was irritated by what instigated her Valium consumption. (This is not a spoiler – it happens very early in the book.) She does not mourn the death of her mother or her loss of other personal relationships in her life. However, when she is called a freak at work after someone wanting a different waitress than her, she is driven to suicide. Olivia spent the first pages of the novel describing how numb she feels, but she gives up so quickly. It galled me a bit, even though I am aware that sometimes the burden can just become too heavy. Also, she was a very ill individual. I just wish she would have gotten stronger for herself. I will grant that she did see a mental health professional, but Jude was the driving force.

All in all, Emerald City is a lovely debut novel for Leppert. I finished it in two days and did not want to put it down. Due to the suicide attempt at the beginning of the story, I would only recommend it for the older young adult audience. That being said, maybe reading this would inspire someone in pain to seek help. Not everyone gets a Jude, and it is just important for someone to learn to stand on his or her own two feet. I think anyone who enjoys romance and contemporary books with a hint of the supernatural would be happy to get their hands on this book.

If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.